In a prior blog post, we discussed what happens after an arrest for operating under the influence (OUI) in Maine. We noted that there are differences between an OUI's criminal process, and its administrative aspects, and that these differences could make OUI proceedings surprisingly confusing. In short, at the time of your arrest, both the administrative and criminal aspects of an OUI begin. The criminal process starts with a criminal citation for operating under the influence. Then you and your attorney, on one side, and the prosecutor, on the other side, put together the facts of the case. This builds up to a trial, or a plea, and either an acquittal, or a conviction and sentence. This process can take awhile.
The administrative process, however, is much quicker, and less formal. After your arrest, you will usually have approximately 30 days before your driver's license gets suspended by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). You'll be notified of an administrative hearing, where you'll be allowed to contest this suspension. However, you only have ten days from the date that the suspension is set to go into effect in order to request a hearing. If you fail to request a hearing, your license will remain under suspension. For those facing an OUI whereby a test result was obtained, by requesting a hearing, your license suspension will be stayed pending the result of a hearing. For those of you who refused to submit to a chemical test (blood, breath or urine), you can request a hearing. However, you will remain under suspension unless you prevail at the hearing.
This hearing is the most important aspect of the administrative side of an OUI arrest. It resolves the administrative proceedings, just like the trial resolves the criminal charges against you. If you don't successfully plead your case at the hearing, or if you don't request one, then your license will get suspended in accordance with the type of OUI offense you were charged with. Because the results are the same if you lose at the hearing as they are if you don't request one, there's no good reason to let the opportunity go by.
Requesting an administrative hearing requires the state of Maine to present evidence, showing that your license suspension is warranted. This evidence typically consists of the results of a chemical test, showing your breath alcohol content (BrAC), and the testimony of the responding police officer. If either of these is absent from the hearing, your chances at successfully overturning the license suspension increase dramatically. It's not unheard of for suspensions to be dropped at the administrative hearings because the police officer didn't show up. Even if the police officer does testify, and you end up losing at the administrative hearing, it's still a useful opportunity for your attorney to question the officer. What the officer says at the hearing can be used against him in court proceedings and can dramatically effect the outcome of the criminal charges, later on. And losing at the hearing is the same as not requesting one, in the first place. The information obtained at the hearing, on the record, is oftentimes invaluable to the defense of the criminal case.
Attorney William T. Bly has represented hundreds of people, defending against OUI charges. This includes not only the criminal portion of the arrest, but also the administrative side, as well. Your ability to drive can greatly influence your life. Call the law office at (207) 571-8146 if you're worried about losing your driver's license after an OUI arrest.